Open access: Knowledge shared is knowledge multiplied

Simon Peter Nadeem, a PhD Candidate at the University of Derby’s Centre for Supply Chain Improvement, discusses whether access to academic research should be free and open access.

Research is the back bone of any development, without which it would not be possible to progress or grow. Learning has always been and will always be the curiosity that drives humans to step further in exploring untouched avenues and dimensions

Value of academic research

While it is true that academic research is priceless and can’t be measured by money, it is also true that the curiosity to learn often goes un-nurtured due to the cost associated with retrieving the published knowledge. Such is the case due to high pricing for individual journal articles, let alone the whole journal booklet. Universities and research institutions try their level best to get subscriptions to as many academic databases as they can, but there will always come a time when you want to access a full resource after reading the abstract but are faced with a lock that can only be opened payment.

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Should it be free?

As I said before, research and its output are priceless and of upmost value to present and future generations, however I do not want to neglect the importance of cost associated with developing, publishing, and managing the academic resources. Perhaps it is the time to re-think and develop new rules. Here are some suggestions on how we could make research more accessible:

  • allow open access repositories to share materials publically
  • provide open access and seek for the operational cost to be covered from sources other than payment by researchers
  • subsidise the price researchers pay
  • grant free or very low cost membership to researchers showing great potential or track record of greater research contribution
  • approach funding agencies to fund the publications

What would be the outcome?

The knowledge shared has the potential to be more effective than keeping it within boundaries. The effect of the synergy factor, which allows assessment of binary interactions in case-control studies, is important to understand, where the power of two or more is individually less than their collective effort. The synergy factor should be given more emphasis in academic research, to expand the scope and horizons. Research by an individual, shared and developed with the ideas and thoughts of others can result in fast pace development in a synergetic and systematic manner.

Is this win or lose?

Well, it depends how you look at it. In the author’s opinion it would be a win-win situation – the researcher publishing would cherish their work being utilised and developed, and the new researcher would benefit by learning from former research and be able to expand their thoughts from there on, rather than re-inventing the wheel.

Will it be profitable?

Yes, definitely yes. As the tile says, ‘knowledge shared is knowledge multiplied’. However it must be noted that profitability is not always in or limited to monetary terms, its span is much wider than that. However, if you try to measure it only in monetary terms then the answer might be negative.

Final thoughts:

As the famous quotation in the study of economics says, There is no such a thing as free lunch’. It is true and by no means does the author intend to undermine the importance of cost associated in developing and managing the research databases. The goal is to highlight the possible outcomes with its easy access and the need to develop new rules to play the same game, for the benefit of all.

For further press information please contact the News Team on 01332 592032, pressoffice@derby.ac.uk or @derbyunipress

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